You Are What You Aspire To Be

Let’s face it many of us are failing to live up to our potential. Life just gets in the way. We routinely make choices that just eat up the clock yet provide little value and, in fact, are in direct conflict with what they would like to accomplish. Things like going out for a big lunch and skipping the gym or letting dust accumulate on the book you bought but never finished. BUT it doesn’t have to be that way!

“Fulfilling your potential is a journey not a destination. You complete goals and replace them with new ones  –always striving to improve!”

Perhaps what sets apart those that enjoy more success in realizing more of their potential is they have the vision, clarity and determination to make better choices. They often pass on immediate gratification in pursuit of greater rewards. Just thinking about it without action will create frustration not progress. BUT it doesn’t have to be that way! Ask yourself the question.

“I’m inspired to do what, be what?”

Making your new goals “must do priorities” is a key. Make a plan to introduce sustainable change initiatives that you are comfortable you can transition into a new improved lifestyle. Skipping a meal versus eating healthy is an example.

Following are some suggestions and considerations to help you along.

1.    Turning Ambition into Accomplishment begins with having clarity around what success will look like. Having a clear vision of the outcome is the beacon of light needed to ensure you remain on course during your journey. What does your success look like –describe it.

2.    Having a realistic written plan as to how you will accomplish your vision is essential. Using smart goals is wise. I recommend starting at the end and reverse engineering the initiatives making sure to put first things first. A common cause of plan breakdown is committing to do too much too soon.  Your plan should incorporate the time required for the other goals / commitments as well. An hour reading each day is far more productive than four hours every two weeks or so.

3.    Maintain a “Let’s make it happen”  positive mindset / attitude. Knowing why your goal is important to you and remaining confident that the outcome is achievable is essential to building the strength to turn away from urges / distractions not supportive of you goals. Feel like you slipping call a friend or go for a walk.

4.    Making the pursuit of your goal part of your everyday life, not something you hope you’ll find the motivation and time for is a must. Whether it’s hitting the gym or reading a book, make it a priority and a must do thing. Personally I drag myself to the gym then love it.

5.    Don’t make your goals a secret. Tell those around you of your ambitions and ask for their support and assistance. They can help you with encouragement and help hold you accountable to your goal.

6.    Get the help you need. Going it alone will make you feel alone and that is the beginning of becoming overwhelmed and disillusioned. If you need a skill or support get it in place when and where you need it. Don’t let self pride keep you from asking and getting the help required.

7.    Measure and celebrate your progress. Taking time to refresh and evaluate both the progress made and the journey ahead keeps your plan active and real. Every plan will need refinement and adjustments, that’s just reality.

8.    Know when to say when. For athletes it’s stopping before incurring a serious strain or injury, and for others it’s ensuring the tank is never fully drained. Overdoing it just about guarantees a setback. Be realistic and keep aware to avoid sabotaging your initiative.

9.    It’s about the journey as well. Sacrifice is all good and well but misery will consume you. Be realistic on the price you’re willing to pay to reach your goal. Depriving yourself of the enjoyment of everyday life can make the realization of the goal an empty and distant victory.

10. Arrive at your destination with few regrets. Maintaining your values and adhering to your beliefs will ensure your integrity and self worth remains intact.

Being inspired is a wonderful thing. Harnessing and growing your abilities in pursuit of your vision is living your life with purpose and intent. It’s both exciting and rewarding and certainly well worth the price of giving up the very stuff that is holding your back.

Relationships – A Failure to Connect is a Failure to Lead


I say relationships because effective communication is only one side of the coin. Connection is the other.

As leaders one of the pitfalls is that you can speak to someone and they will take action. It can be totally one sided. You say go do this and they do. You can deliver a speech and watch the audience disengage or you can pitch a great idea and receiving low support or buy in. It simply takes more than your words to be a true leader of change.

Speaking at someone is not the same as speaking with someone

Leadership is most effective when the leader can inspire and motivated people to not only follow but internalize the goal and commit to the realization. It comes down to engaging with them to build a solid connection. Here are a few recommendations on building those connections.

  1. Listen to learn. Taking the time to listen builds awareness, demonstrates respect, builds perspective and uncovers concerns. It is often recounted people will not listen when they have not be heard.
  2. Know your audience. What is their interest, knowledge, or position on the issue to be discussed or spoken about? Talking over or under their knowledge level, failure to understand or not recognizing their beliefs, perspectives or position will be speaking to deaf ears and made up minds.
  3. Speak to the person not the situation. Always remember speaking to the person will ensure higher engagement because it is personal. You need them to participate not observe. Speak with them not about them.
  4. Speak about the concerns. Don’t make the problem about the person make it about the circumstances, situation or behavior. Offending the person shuts them down, where as asking for involvement / clarification in addressing potential solutions encourages dialogue and maintains respect.
  5. Don’t assume build the facts. Observations are fine when they are made to bring out more facts not represent the only facts. Asking a leading question is more effective that taking a position not yet determined, validated or accepted.
  6. Offer WIN / WIN. Solutions that allow both side to claim success are the ones that have the best chance at realizing lasting benefits because it give both sides a reason to uphold the agreement. As a leader you may have the power to force compliance, however, good leaders know and practice the ability to connect and build the relationships that produce engagement, partnerships, mutual fulfillment and solid sustainable results.
  7. Speak only what you believe and are passionate about. Good leaders are genuine, passionate and believable. Ask only for what’s necessary and only for things you would be willing to do given a chance in circumstances.
  8. Avoid the fork tongue -follow through. You word is your bond only when your words are followed up by the action you take. There is an old and wise saying, “Listen to the words but believe their actions.”
  9. Servant leadership is the best way to inspire / facilitate the success of others leading to the realization of the desired outcome. Now do this leader’s get at best what they ask for but no more.
  10. Achieving a connected relationship is not an event it’s an ongoing partnership born of mutual respect, trust and admiration.

Obligation or Opportunity -Your Personal Brand


Perhaps it is all in your perception, but, personally I feel best and perform best when I see my tasks and actions as an opportunity to create and share value. I view these as events that brand me. These are things I am most proud of.

Whereas when I find myself acting out of pure obligation I feel that I am sacrificing something or doing something that I don’t want to. In most cases, this occurs when I am doing something for someone I view as non deserving of unappreciative of my actions.  Typically I approach these actions with low energy and low personal satisfaction.

Now here’s the truth. Both situations define and brand  you. As an individual, I feel, you must find value in your actions even if the recipient is not an avid cheerleader. It’s your actions that you control not the action of others that count. If it’s good it’s good either way.

Our personal brand is the standard we aspire to. Our actions either support that standard or not and it’s all under our control. Have not defined your personal brand yet it’s not too late. Here a couple of actions to help you along.

  1. Listen to your heart, mind and soul. Define yourself in the most positive light.
  2. Identify the as is. Take an honest look at those actions / things that align to the most positive you and also those things that don’t.
  3. Determine the list of things you’ll like to change ranking them in most important and urgent to less important and less urgent.
  4. Realize you can’t get up the next morning a changed person, but, you can get up the next morning a more determined person with a plan to strive towards your most positive you.
  5. Realize you have the rest of your life ahead of you and while the past is written your future is yet to be realized and will be defined by your actions going forward.
  6. Be accountable to yourself and others. Your actions create your person brand. Evaluate the person you strive to be against the person seen by others. Be consistent and walk you image. Make a promise and consistanty meet it.
  7. Be genuine. Being true to yourself means never having to act. Chase negativity replacing it with positivity.
  8. Be accepting of you minor faults and those of others. We’re humans and not perfect.
  9. See the world through multicolored glasses. Consider the many / alternative perspectives as relevant not just your own. Don’t fall victim to your personal biases and blind spots.

Taking control of your personal brand ensures you act and behave in a manner consist with you beliefs, values and ambitions. Living a life full of opportunities and with no regrets is largely under your control and within your reach. Making obligations into opportunities to contribute can shift and energize your perception into alignment with the most positive you.

Effective Delegation –Positive Communication Breakdown


Stop talking and listen. The key to achieving effective delegation of work is to foster bi-directional communication where clarity can be established and details defined.

“I know you heard what I said but you didn’t understand what I meant”

This happens all the time. As the leader it is your responsibility to take measures to ensure the success of your employees. Where many leaders fall short is delegating responsibilities and not providing for the opportunity for the employee to fully understand and validate the assignment. Waiting to the deadline to find out the assignment wasn’t understood and will not be completed to desired expectations is courting failure -yours not theirs.

Message verification is critical.

I use a 3 question approach.

1) Do you and your employee understand what the successful outcome looks like? Have them tell you what they have heard. Are they comfortable with the assignment? Right here you can validate employee understanding of the desired outcome and set them up for success.

2) Can your employee or team identify their strategy, tactics or actions to achieve the desired outcome? It’s key that they can articulate their approach indicating both ownership and competency. This is an excellent question to disclose potential issues, as well as an opportunity to mentor, offer supportive suggestions to increase the likelihood of success.

3) Any issues, obstacles, concerns or assistance required is identified. This signals to your employee that you are not delegating and departing but will remain an active resource. Many initiatives will encounter unforeseen obstacles and as leaders your ongoing support and mentorship is invaluable.

Collectively these questions increase the likelihood of getting an on time and successful outcome. Additionally, I recommend scheduled progress reviews to ensure the employees success is on track. Good leaders empower, equip and support. This does not mean micromanagement so be sure to support and not direct.

Want Results? – Get Serious

The problem is obvious. Merely going through the motions of business planning won’t get the desired results, it will get the obvious ones.

Imagine you paid good money to see a professional sporting event and the participants sauntered onto the playing field looking out of shape and under prepared. They go through the motions lacking the significant passion or commitment obviously required and not really caring if they win or lose. Clearly this would not be acceptable.

Similarly, when you take the time and expense to take your “key” staff offsite you should NOT accept such behavior. It’s the leader’s role to inspire and harness the passions of their staff by providing a vision bigger than the individuals and requiring collaboration, innovation and collective purpose. It’s the senior staff’s responsibility to create a culture of accountability and commitment to one another, their employees and the company in pursuit of the desired results.  That’s how teams work and results are achieved.


Here are the wrong signs:

  1. You plan the event weeks in advance and people reluctantly show up unprepared.
  2. Presentations requested show up late of the requested deadline and are incomplete.
  3. Participants take every opportunity to get their phone out and keep in touch with the office.
  4. The event is all fluff and form but lacks substance.
  5. No one believes anything of value will result from the exercise. Often based on past experiences.

 “You get what you accept so expect more and get more”

So how do you solve this –you get serious!

Let’s begin!

  • Define the purpose of the event and what success looks like.

Make it clear that the purpose of the event is to discuss the issues or initiatives required to address the critical needs of the business. Be specific in advance and charge your people to come to the meeting prepared with answer and solutions. Create the expectation that this meeting is of upmost importance and requires participants to bring their “A” game.

  • This is not a 1 -2 day event, it is the launching plan of the key business initiatives the organization will commit to successfully achieving. Defining both the strategy and execution in actionable specific steps is a must. These are not optional nice to haves and failure to achieve then is not an acceptable option, so debates and commitments made are real and achievable.
  • Check your distractions at the door. Ensure the office knows these people are unavailable for the duration of the event. They can check in after the event. If the staff can’t manage without then for the day ask why.
  • Make the event real. Deal with real issues or real opportunities. I will add several links at the conclusion of this post for those who want clarification. Walking out of that event without full understanding and commitment is not acceptable. Make your Strategy Real.
  • Strategy without execution is of no value. If you have a goal you need a realistic plan to achieving it. Poor execution is almost always the leading cause of failure of strategic plan initiatives. Most goals are achievable given focus, passion, commitment and enduring commitment. The execution plan needs to be a living document that guides and measures your progress throughout the year.
  • If at any time during the meeting inappropriate levels of attention, intensity or lack of effort or commitment / buy in is observed, stop the meeting and address the causes before proceeding. Don’t let the meeting deteriorate.

In summary, the difference in producing and executing a successful Strategic Plan is setting and maintaining the expectation that the organization will commit to, and realize the stated business initiatives by taking the actions to make it real.

Make Your Strategy Real

Look Back to move forward


The Business Consultant’s Dilemma – Integrity or Pay Check

There are those consultants with the philosophy that as long as the cheques cashed it’s all good.  Where and how do you draw the line in the sand with clients?

Over the last 10+ years I have provided Business Consulting to over 60 businesses and senior leaders. Prior to this I held senior management positions in Finance, Operations and Marketing throughout North America. So I have been on both sides, as a client and as the one providing the consulting services.

Let’s begin with understanding The Consultant’s Dilemma.

  • As a consultant do you attempt to put things in the best possible light telling the client what they want to hear or do you tell then what they need to hear?
  • As a consultant do you gloss over sensitive business issues to avoid making the customer upset or do you risk being fired because your efforts are viewed as disruptive / uncomfortable to the organization?
  • As a consultant do you go along with a poor / or an incomplete plan because that’s what the client wants despite you knowing you’re facilitating failure, or do you openly challenge the clients assumptions and reasoning?
  • As a consultant do you continue showing up despite knowing that your client is failing or unwilling to take agreed upon actions necessary to achieve the desired outcomes, or do you terminate the assignment and part ways?
  • As a consultant do you perform the responsibilities of others to achieve success or do you identify organization deficiencies for resolution?

These real life situations are not uncommon and represent a significant challenge. The Business Consultants knowing when to invest more time and effort to facilitate a transformation versus knowing when walking away. Its essential consultants accept that change is not made it’s accepted and acted on.

We all have a Role to Play

Leader versus Manager Roles 

The above link will take you to a post discussing the differences between the contributions of Leaders versus Managers. To me each provide equally important value to their organizations. While a Leader may make a larger contribution to strategic visioning without the dedication and competency of managers, front line supervisors and hard-working committed front line employees execution of that vision will not be realized. Strategic vision realization is everyone’s job and smart leaders whom get out of their seats and walk the floors will learn and benefit from what they see. Credit belongs to those doing the work! Great Leaders inspire great Workers deliver!